The mammoth task of saving Norwich’s historic churches for future generations is highlighted today as a £500,000 appeal is launched to renovate four of them.

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The Norwich Historic Churches Trust (NHCT) needs the money to update the medieval churches for the 21st century and preserve a crucial part of the city’s heritage.

The Grade I listed buildings lack modern facilities and need renovating so that the trust can find new tenants for them.

St Margaret’s in St Benedict’s Street, which hosts exhibitions in the summer months, St John de Sepulchre in Ber Street, which is empty, St Gregory’s in Pottergate, and St Clement’s on Colegate, which is used by the Romanian Orthodox congregation, need the money so they can be used by the community.

If the trust raises the funds to install a water supply, toilets, heating and kitchens then the churches can be rented out – keeping them in use and providing income which will then be pumped back into the building’s maintenance.

Vice-chairman of the trust Felicity Hartley said: “The churches don’t have basic facilities. They don’t have running water, they don’t have loos, and they don’t have much in the way of heating.

“They were designed as community buildings in the Middle Ages and we would like really to go back to that and make them have that vibrant quality that can be shared with the people in the neighbourhood.

“Churches are a wonderful asset. They are huge responsibility as well.”

Stella Eglinton, from the trust, said they would look to renovate St Margaret’s Church first and had raised around £35,000 so far.

“These churches are part of Norwich’s heritage and they need to be conserved,” she said. “By getting people in there to use them they can become part of the community again and make an area much more vibrant and welcoming.”

The cost is estimated at £125,000 per church and as Grade I listed buildings the trust is restricted over how much it can alter the churches.

An architect has already drawn up preliminary drawings of work that could be done to all four churches to show to potential donors and tenants.

The Geoffrey Watling charity, set up in memory of the entrepreneur, has donated £25,000 but more donors are being sought.

Norwich has more medieval churches than any other city in west Europe north of the Alps and heritage bosses highlighted their importance to the city.

Mike Loveday, chief executive of the Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (Heart) said: “We have a unique resource in the city that nowhere else can offer and it is important to make sure that these assets are accessible and not only kept standing, but put to use.”

The trust cares for 18 of the city’s medieval churches that are no longer required for worship and finds alternative uses for them.

To make a donation send a cheque, made payable to the Norwich Historic Churches Trust, to: Stella Eglinton, Administrator, Norwich Historic Churches Trust, St Peter Parmentergate, 76 King Street, Norwich, NR1 1PG or donate online at https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/nhct

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